A while ago I wrote about how the LOTRO community needs to stop being so nice because it reduces their collective bargaining power. If memory serves a few feathers were ruffled because some folk didn’t like the inference that they were push overs. There were also some rather binary arguments that I was advocating that players should be rude and entitled , which I was not. Spookily enough human’s are capable of more than two modes of behaviour. Anyway, I want to return to this matter because of two recent announcements made by Turbine recently that I feel need to be addressed.
First off is the fact that there’s to be a XP boost in-game, running to the 26th February. Nothing particularly contentious there, I hear you say? It also includes an increase in the rate of lootbox drops. The other announcement was regarding Middle-earth fashion Week. It’s another of these events like last years Galloping Gala and Summer Fun. IE something that the players have to arrange for themselves. Turbine simply promote it via the forum and offer a few prizes in the form of items codes. Overall both these developments seem somewhat innocuous. However I would ask you to pause a moment and consider them a little deeper.
The XP boost comes as an additional sweetener to the recent extended downtime to the game. VIP and Premium account holders are already receiving 250 turbine Points compensation (although its yet to manifest itself on my account). the thing is do you actually want an XP boost? Well some do not and if you don’t it means you have to purchase an XP disabler from the store and use it in your pocket item slot on whatever character you are playing. No such a boon is it? Plus who benefits more from an increase in lootbox drops? Does the increase chance of getting one also extend to keys? Either way it seems that Turbine are simply trying to placate customers with items that ultimately drive them to the store. The same can be said about the prizes on offer for the Fashion Week. They are just store goods and not exceptional loot. Suddenly it doesn’t look so generous?
As for this trend towards player organised events, this is far from ideal. I am fully aware that there are a wealth of players who are happy to organise such things but that is not the point. Firstly is comes down to a lottery as to whether your alts are on a server with an active community or not. Secondly and possibly the most important question of all, is why can’t Turbine arrange, promote and manage some events themselves. They certainly have the tools to do so as anyone who’s been on Bullroarer at the end of a beta test will tell you. Also before the EU/US game merger, Codemasters managed to do such activities on a regular basis. Overall all these points contribute to a recurring question on many LOTRO players lips. Exactly what are VIP customers paying for?
Turbine have a very good thing going with the LOTRO community. They get free publicity and now they get events and activities that others labour to organise, while they can claim the credit. Furthermore, all these things get paid for with trinkets and baubles. It strikes me as a grossly one-sided relationship and once again I would advocate that its time to stop being so accommodating. Now let me make it very clear at this point what I am not advocating, because some folk seem to have a very two dimensional mindset. I am not saying that we have to be rude, entitled, confrontational or unreasonable in out customer relationship with Turbine. On the contrary, to maintain a measured and reasonable position, one needs to act with decorum. What I am suggesting is that the community says to Turbine a polite and firm “no thank you”, followed by reasonable alternative proposals. There is nothing wrong with adopting such a position. We are after all customers and Turbine is a service provider. The business dynamic should be treat as such by both sides and not confused with anything else.
I am not alone in concluding that F2P business models may well see a better financial return from churning low level players, than from veterans. As a VIP subscriber you need to ask yourself are your needs being met? If like myself you have concluded that this may no longer be the case then you need to consider the options available to address this. Unfortunately, it usually means voting with your pocket and therefore it will impact upon your enjoyment of LOTRO. However, there are few alternatives, so if you want to see a more equitable relationship restored, you have to decide if you are prepared to pay the price for it. Potentially the recently announced player council could be a potential forums for this debate but that remains to be seen. In the meantime, if you feel that Turbine could do more then why not do something about it. The first step is to once again stop being so “nice”. If however, you are happy to continue to do a percentage of Turbine’s job for them, then continue to do so. Just don’t balk when someone points it.